Transport Watch UK Focusing on UK's Traffic & Traffic Systems

Summary Week ending 21st June 2003

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Posted by Paul Withrington on June 23, 2003

The Telegraph

16th June:
Paul Marston (National road tolls would cut cost for country motorists) reports the study funded by the Independent Transport Commision and carried out by Professor Glaister and his team at Imperial College. The finding is that scrapping fuel tax and replacing with distance or congestion charging would cut traffic by up to 37% making driving cheaper than at present on uncongested rural roads and more expensive on congested roads.
George Trefgarne (Traffic charge and economic failure) reports claims from business and the Conservatives in London that the congestion charge is an economic failure netting £65 million per year, not the hoped for £121m and less than one third the original estimate of £210m. As consequence council taxes may rise by £200 per year per taxpayer. Meanwhile the article reports subsidy to the capital’s buses as rising to £1 bn per year by 2008.
17th June: 
Paul Marston (Railway cuts to ease congestion) reports the SRA proposing just that - lines running above 90% of capacity included London to Reading, Birmingham, Peterborough and Crew to Liverpool. Parts of the network around London, Manchester, Leeds, Bristol and Cardiff are also heavily under stress…. Transport Watch here comments that at Euston – the terminal for Birmingham traffic - 60,000 passengers alight all day. They could be carried in 3,000 50- seat coaches. 3,000 coaches which could pass in 90 minutes in the space available.
Alistair Osborne (SRA blames operators for blocking rail system) reports the SRA claiming that long distance operators had put on 44% more train-km in the 6 years to 2002/3 but that passenger-km on the routes had risen by only 4.9% to 12.9 billion having dipped from the peak before Hatfield of 13.2 billion. The article also reports the SRA as running £12 bn over budget. Richard Bowker is reported as saying subsidy to inter-city train operators is down from £315 mn in 1997-98 to £105 mn last year including £106mn to keep Virgin on track following the late delivery of the West Coast Main Line upgrade.
19th June
Alistair Osborne (Network Rail fees cons taxpayers £70m) reports the high cost of the administration of Railtrack - £70m in fees - and that there is now an explosion of costs likely to reach £27.8 billion by April 2006, £12 billion more than the budget.
20th June
Paul Marston and Michael Kallenbach (Passengers angry as rail fare rise outstrips inflation) report increased fares for rail passengers generating £15m per year compared with the Network Rail’s daily operating and maintenance spending of £16m. To add a peak hour train would cost £1,500 per passenger (presumably per year) yet an annual season ticket would yield only £560 according to the SRA.
21st June
Discussion – Do we need more runways
Zac Goldsmith editor of the Ecologist reports an anticipated threefold increase in air traffic by 2030 with horror and wants taxes to represent the environmental cost etc.
Michael O’Leary (Ryan Air) says the environmentalist case is misplaced – Air travel is the most efficient and environmentally friendly form of transport carrying far more passengers per unit if fuel used then cars or buses.

The Times

16th June
Ben Webster (Road tolls ‘only way’ to control growth) reports the findings of the Independent Transport Commission that road pricing in substitution for fuel tax would have a dramatic effect on congestion.
17th June
Ben Webster (passengers to get fewer trains at higher fares) - The SRA orders TOCs to abandon plans to improve frequency and does not rule out (further) cuts in the timetable. Also fares to rise by 3.5% - On long-distance routes the number of trains run since 1997-8 has risen by 65% while passengers had increased by 10% according to the SRA. (Contrast with the Telegraph’s figures from the same source above)- 
20th June
Ben Webster (Rail season tickets will go up and up) - higher fares for rail passengers – 1% above inflation instead of 1% below. Alistair Darling quoted as saying the proportion of costs paid by the passengers had fallen from 72% four years ago to 53% this year. The taxpayer pays the rest.
Ben Webster (How airport protesters hit turbulence) Celebrities protesting about airports turn out to be heavy uses of air travel.

Financial Times
June 21st
Peter Marsh (Alstom to shed 700 jobs at train factory): Alstom to stop making trains in Birmingham; Paul Barron head of Alstom says decision is because he sees nothing significant in orders for some time. Assembly at Birmingham to continue until completion of the £1bn order for Pendolino trains. Alstom has won an order worth £100 million for Jubilee line trains, now to be built in Europe.

The Business
15/16th June
Paul F Withrington Director of Transport Watch (Railways Myth and mathematics) Business platform - article by summarising much of the road/rail comparisons reported in this web site.
22/23rd June
Adrian Lyons, Director General of Railway Forum Responds to above – (Letters Column “Off the Rails”) - doubting that 1,000 buses per hour can fit in use one lane of a motor road. 
(Transport Watch response - yet to be published – will say, 1,000 per hour at 100 kph provides 100 metre headways – go look at any motorway etc).
Tracey Boles, (Transport Editor) Two articles (a) Scorn poured as Eurostar boasts it can replace 250,000 flights (b) Network Rail to wage 10-year war on costs – quoting the £28.8bn to be spent by 2006 on repairs - £12 billion over budget and Network Rails determination to get a grip etc.

New Civil Engineer (one of the two premier marketing magazines for Rail)
19th June 2003 
Antony Oliver [editor] (Poor performance risks rail’s future, says Armitt): Armitt head of Rail Track says “can the country afford to keep on spending £6-£7bn per year on the railways for the next 20 years? Many people would say no”…….. 
Antony Oliver (Is rail a fashion victim) An article which echoes the view of Transport Watch in its first column and then “hang on a minute ….. I like trains……. I am happy for my taxes to be invested in rail……”

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